A polymer can be defined as a large molecule composed of repeated chemical units. The smallest unit which is being repeated is known as ‘monomer’. The number of these units in a particular polymer is known as the degree of polymerization (DP) or chain length. If all the units in a polymer are same then it is called a homopolymer and if they are not all the same then it is called a heteropolymer. All the molecules cannot form a polymer. There are two different types of polymers on the basis of their structure. A linear polymer starts at the beginning and goes straight to the end. A branched out polymer has branches along the chain.
Fast Facts: –
- Sometimes, they are also referred as macromolecules because these are substances composed of large molecules.
- Physical properties of a polymer depend on many factors including whether they are inter-chained or intra-chained.
- Polymer chains can be connected to one another chemically or physically. The connections of these chains are called crosslink.
- All of the polymers are not transparent. It completely depends on the degree of crystallinity.
- Polymers can be very resistant to chemicals. They can be thermal and electrical insulators.
- Organic polymers provide basic structural materials and have involvement in vital life processes.
- Cellulose, a polysaccharide is a polymer composed of sugar molecules.
- Diamond and graphite are good examples of inorganic polymers.
- Polyester is a linear polymer characterized by a repetition of ester groups along the main chain.
- Silicones are an example of a different type of polymers called the mixed organic-inorganic compounds.